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By Thomas Turner

This is likely one of the most unusual calls you’ll ever receive,” said the voice on the telephone...  Continue»

By Chad Austin

So, you want to buy an airplane and join the ranks of the owner / pilot.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Several airlines are planning to retire all of their 747-400 aircraft in the coming years as fuel costs rise and newer planes offer advantages in fuel efficiency and range. Boeing stopped producing the 747-400 in 2009, 20 years after that variant first rolled off the line. And while there are still about 400 of the heavy jets flying, a growing number are being mothballed or sold for spare parts. Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines have park all of their 747-400s for good, an ignominious end to what was once the largest passenger plane in the skies. Several other airlines, like Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Qantas, are shedding the 747-400 as they take delivery of the Airbus A380 and new long-range Boeing 777s. While the A380 uses more fuel than the 747-400, it can also carry 100 or more passengers, lowering the cost per passenger for airlines.  The newest 747-8, which recently started rolling off Boeing’s production line, has just over 100 orders, the vast majority of which are for freighter versions that will never carry revenue passengers. It’s part of a growing trend of airlines favoring much more efficient planes, like the 777, for long-haul routes, or using smaller long-range aircraft like the Boeing 787.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-06-13/boeing-747-prices-tumble-as-higher-fuel-costs-end-23-year-reign

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By Editor Staff

Insurance claims could eventually total several million dollars for general aviation aircraft damaged at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Connecticut. The airport sits just above sea level on Long Island Sound and was inundated by the storm surge from superstorm Sandy. While the airport opened several days after the storm passed, its lights and navigational aides sustained extensive damage. As many as 100 planes based at the field sustained some level of damage, mostly from flooding. While some may just need repairs to landing gear corroded by salt water, others may end up being totaled, since the salt water likely infiltrated the fuselages and wings of low-wing aircraft. AOPA counted a dozen aircraft as total losses this week, but noted that it had not surveyed all aircraft insurance companies, and not all planes have been assessed for damage yet.

http://www.aopa.org/aircraft/articles/2012/121108aircraft-claims-mount-in-storms-aftermath.html

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By Jeff Pardo

There she is, sitting by the wash rack: the picture of health. You've just finished washing off the bugs and grime, vacuumed out the interior, and you can't wait to head out on your next cross-country. One thing that we often don't stop to consider however, is the question of whether or not the next aircraft you eagerly await flying looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside. I don't mean the upholstery or avionics, either.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

It wasn’t long after Airbus started shipping its Airbus A380 super jumbo jet several years ago that mechanics and inspectors started finding fatigue cracks in wing brackets on a handful of aircraft. The company worked up a costly short-term fix, as well as a regimen of wing inspections at regular intervals. Now, Airbus has a permanent fix for each of the 75 A380s in the air, but that process will take up to two months per plane to perform. The problem, the company said, involves both an overly rigid aluminum alloy used in the wing brackets, as well as the stress of putting fasteners through the brackets during assembly. The fix uses redesigned brackets with different materials, but requires disassembling large portions of each wing at its root to replace the brackets. So far, Airbus has been covering the cost of short term repairs, about $315 million to date. It won’t be until 2014 before Airbus changes its manufacturing process to incorporate the long-term fix; airlines can either opt for the modification once they have their new aircraft or delay delivery, Airbus said.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/06/11/bloomberg_articlesM5G0HN1A74E901-M5GKI.DTL

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By Editor Staff

Airbus sees a future with planes that can communicate with each other and fly procedures that are quieter and far more fuel efficient than today. The Smarter Skies initiative is something of a vision document, illustrating what the aircraft manufacturer would like to see by 2050 when it comes to airline and airport operations, not necessarily the details of future aircraft enhancements. On takeoff, Airbus sees benefits in using equipment on the ground to help launch aircraft down the runway. Planes would need shorter runways for takeoff, allowing airports closer to dense urban environments. And planes could then conduct “eco-climbs” at lower engine power settings. Some of Airbus' visions are already being planned through the NextGen upgrades to the U.S. air traffic control system. Procedures that optimize climbs and descents would save fuel and reduce travel time by making arrival and departure procedures more direct, at least in theory. Airbus envisions descents at idle power, saving large amounts of fuel, as well as reducing noise and engine wear.

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20120906/BLOG01/120909877

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By Paul A. Craig

Is it possible to have a controlled airport operating in uncontrolled airspace?  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

The first person to correctly state the relationship between air resistance and velocity was
A) Isaac Newton, in 1687
B) Edme Mariotte, in 1673
C) Christiaan Huygens, in 1668
D) Leonardo da Vinci, in 1491

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By Editor Staff

A prototype unmanned reusable space vehicle on an unknown mission is slated to land at an Air Force base in California sometime in the next two weeks after more than 450 consecutive days in orbit. The X-37B, with a payload area the size of a pickup truck’s bed and a 15-foot wingspan, stayed in orbit more than five months longer than originally planned, though the Air Force would not say why the test mission was extended or what the X-37B has been doing. The X-37B is less than 30 feet long and launches into orbit atop a conventional rocket. This is the second prototype X-37B drone space craft to fly. The first one stayed in orbit for 270 days between April and December 2010. While remotely operated, that drone made a fully autonomous landing at the end of its mission. Astronomy buffs have speculated that the X-37B missions are conducting military surveillance. The first flight in 2010 had an orbit that took it over North Korea and Afghanistan, flying over the same points every four days.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/space-plane/

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By Editor Staff

While the U.S. Air Force relies planes that are decades old, a robust and costly maintenance regime keeps them all in the air. Everything from fighters and bombers to aerial refueling tankers dates in some cases to the Vietnam War or even earlier. And planes like the F-15 fighter, made to have a useful life of 5,000 flight hours when it went into service in Vietnam, now routinely reach 18,000 flight hours. Major overhauls that include replacing wings and other large components help explain why so many aircraft can keep flying for the Air Force all over the world. Meanwhile, replacement aircraft programs have routinely hit cost overruns and production delays in the last 20 years. The replacement for the KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, many of which started flying 60 years ago, may not come online for five more years. The F-22 and F-35 fighters, which would replace aging F-15s, F-16s and A-10s, are billions over budget, forcing the Pentagon to scale back its replacement plans. While some critics worry that the Air Force’s aging fleet is its Achilles Heel, many others note that rigorous maintenance is keeping the fleet safely in the sky.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_162-57545003/us-air-force-keeps-fleet-of-aging-warhorses-flying/

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By Chad Austin

I heard about this one from a wanna-be pilot in the California area, which if you've been following the news, seems to be just about completely on fire these days, and I don't mean in a good way!  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

The average age of the U.S. general aviation fleet is already past 30 years, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Despite new-plane manufacturing, this average continues to keep pace with the march of time -- FAA forecasts for the year 2020 show the typical single-engine, piston-powered airplane will be nearly 50 years old. The simple truth is that the rules under which virtually all of these airplanes were certified -- the old Civil Aviation Regulations Part 3 -- had no standards for use- and age-related fatigue or continued airworthiness. No one really knows what the ravages of time will do to airplanes.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Let's say right now you're in your 20s, and you want to learn to fly. Unless you're among the vast minority who at that age can afford to buy a new airplane, (or fortunate enough to attend school with iPilot contributor Paul A. Craig and his school's new fleet of Diamond Stars), you're probably going to learn to fly in someone else's old Cessna or Piper.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

The annual is done, repairs are complete, the modification is installed ... whatever the reason your airplane was in the shop, it’s all buttoned up now, and ready to fly -- or is it?

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By Jeff Pardo

Your flight has ended -- but not the way you had so meticulously planned.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

Many pilots looking for a used airplane or spare parts may not think much of turning to Trade-A-Plane, the website and print publication. The company is celebrating its 75th year in print this year, no small feat in an aviation industry that’s seen its ups and downs in recent years, not to mention a broader classified-advertising industry that’s been radically changed by Craigslist and other free online options. Trade-A-Plane’s staff has grown to 150 people, but it remains a family-owned business and it runs its own commercial printing plant in Tennessee, rather than outsourcing the three-times-a-month print runs. Trade-A-Plane published its first broadsheet edition in 1937, several years after founder Cosby Harrison bought and then crashed a Laird Swallow biplane and had difficulty finding spare parts to repair it. Since then, Trade-A-Plane has grown to print 1.7 million copies per year; the company also produces classifieds for the trucking and energy industries.

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/nbaa-convention-news/2012-10-25/trade-plane-75-aviation-treasure

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By Reader Submission

A slightly updated version of the C-3 Collegian, the C-3 Master had three obvious externally visible changes.

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By Greg Brown

Crowds. Craziness. Music. It’s enough to justify a road trip. I’m not talking Woodstock here, but AirVenture, that surprisingly similar event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. AirVenture’s tunes come not from wailing guitars but from airplane engines — vying like Stratocasters for the crowd’s approval are roaring radials and screaming Merlins. Like Woodstock, there’s a crowd of individualists here, their tents pitched under wings as far as the eye can see. Most people keep their clothes on, but where else can you watch a rocket-powered biplane fly 4,000 feet straight up? No wonder we, the faithful, are drawn each year to this mammoth Oshkosh tent revival, worshipping side-by-side the flying machines that draw us skyward.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Most of the time, “silent flight” means hitting the intercom’s “pilot isolation” switch to keep the passengers’ conversation from overpowering Air Traffic Control... most of the time.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Airplane owners know the dread -- that Number 10 envelope in the mail from the Federal Aviation Administration. Using your airplane registration information (you did update the FAA last time you moved, didn't you?) they've hunted you down to tell you... it's time to spend more money on your airplane.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

The NBAA reports that with the arrival of spring and more VFR days, the government has seen a dramatic increase in the weekend violations of the Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) around Washington, DC and New York City, when compared to VFR winter weekends. This gives the Feds reason to get antsy, and the Office of Homeland Security has another excuse to curtail our right to fly!  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Even some VFR pilots -- to keep the aircraft upright in marginal conditions (hazy days of summer included) often use the Attitude Direction Indicator (ADI) -- but even good instruments fail.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

When flying a light single engine airplane you would not expect to accelerated while climbing, but what if the instruments told you just that – do you believe the instruments or is something else going on?  Continue»

By Chad Austin

The accessory plug is an often-overlooked part of your airplane. In most airplanes, this was called the "cigar" plug or "cigarette lighter" plug, before pilots and maintenance personnel started to figure out that smoking was bad for you ... and just as bad for your airplane.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

The pilot stated that he set 10 degrees of flaps for takeoff from the relatively short runway. The 'aircraft was slow to climb' and once (it) was airborne, he raised the flaps. The airplane settled and collided with the ground. Additionally, the pilot said that the aural stall warning was operating throughout the attempted climbout.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Sometimes, the choice to abort is complicated by other possibilities -- the unpleasant things that will likely happen if you stay on the ground but not on the runway.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Aborting a takeoff can be as uneventful as simply reducing power and rolling to a stop. It may even take the form of noting a problem during your engine run-up, and never taxiing onto the runway at all. A takeoff abort may require a quick "chop" of the throttles at rotation speed, or even a few feet in the air over the runway. In the worst case a takeoff abort may have to begin at a point where you can't come to a stop on the remaining runway.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Rosanne Roseannidanna warned us years ago: "It's always something." As pilot-in-command you may have meticulously planned your takeoff, and used the five-point method of predicting and evaluating takeoff performance. No takeoff will ever go exactly as predicted in the Pilot's Operating Handbook. Like the animal on the runway, there are often some outside influences, some extenuating circumstances that result in the true takeoff performance achieved -- and whether you will have to abort a takeoff.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Some things to keep in mind while we watch the Hurricanes sweep through the Gulf for destinations unknown and any day the wind blows. A few years ago, I had the chance to fly into Cheyenne, Wyoming, after escaping from Jackson Hole.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

The FAA is working on a new set of rules that could make flying a lot more accessible -- and a lot cheaper -- for many more people.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

Rivets will tell you how an airplane has been flown and whether or not it is safe to fly again -- if you know how to read them.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

We don't give much thought to starting the engines in our cars, even in the dark depths of winter, thanks in part to microprocessor controlled electronic fuel injection. Starting up an airplane, however involves a bit more hands-on skill. With colder weather on the way (and, in some areas, well under way), this might be a good time to revisit the one critical component of the induction system that we usually lay our hands on first: the primer.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

With aircraft, there's usually very little in the way of chrome ornamentation. Unlike the Cadillacs and Fords of the early 1960s, if an airplane has fins, they're not for show; almost every part is there because it has to be. One of the most essential assemblies an airplane can have, namely its landing gear, is often regarded as having only secondary importance in terms of its overall engineering contribution to how the entire aircraft functions. However, being aware of how they can be attached (and what can go wrong) is indeed important.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

After the IFR flight plan has been filed and approved, it becomes a clearance. How a new clearance is passed from Air Traffic Control to the pilot depends on where you are and how bad the weather is...  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

In my past several articles, I have been telling you about pilot observations I have made and categories of pilot performance.  After identifying four broad pilot categories, I started to realize that there are some traits that are present across categories. I saw some sub-groups that were not tied to any of the broad categories and could show up in any category. The broad categories were...  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

A chandelle is more than a climbing 180-degree turn with a fanciful French name that flows trippingly off the tongue. (Actually en Français, it's just "candle".) Having tactical origins over Europe during World War I, it is one of several required performance maneuvers in the single-engine commercial pilot Practical Test Standards (SEL only; Section 1, Chapter V).  Continue»

By Chad Austin

We all have those experiences as pilots that leave us with marks for life.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

It stands to reason that the goofiest stuff that you will ever experience as a pilot will usually come at the moment you are least prepared for it.  Continue»

By Chad Austin

On May 12, 2000, a Beech Baron was destroyed when it impacted terrain after takeoff.  Continue»

By Reader Submission

The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) recently received a report from a concerned Air Traffic Controller (ATC) who describes a non-standard communication practice by pilots and ATC: Using microphone clicks as a response to clearances (by pilots), or to read-backs (by controllers).  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

How many times has this thought gone through your mind? “Gee it sure would be wonderful to have my own traffic radar display in this airplane.” Well, something like it may come to you sooner than you think.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

In the largest protests of its kind to date, as many as 100,000 people in Okinawa, Japan on Sunday the U.S. military's plans to deploy two dozen V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft there. The Marines want the aircraft available for patrolling parts of the South China Sea, where several countries dispute who controls the waters. But many Japanese are worried about the Osprey's safety record. At the protest, they latched on to reports of a Osprey making an emergency landing in South Carolina last week due to an oil leak; no one was injured in that incident. The delivery of the Ospreys has already been delayed several times over previous protests. Twelve of the aircraft are on another Japanese island, but grounded by Japanese officials until investigations into Osprey crashes in Florida and Morocco are complete. In the mean time, U.S. troops and their Japanese counterparts are using slower and noisier Vietnam War-era CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters for their missions.

http://nation.time.com/2012/09/09/still-no-luck-for-the-v-22-in-japan/

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By Jeff Pardo

The EA6B that slashed through a ski lift cable in central Italy, killing dozens of people, was not an example of ineptitude.  Continue»

By Jeff Pardo

Knowledge is power in many of life's callings, but especially so in aviation -- our welfare often depends on decisions we make and the wisdom of what we decide to do (or not to do) often hinges on what we know.  Continue»

By Paul A. Craig

It seems that receiving, copying, and reading back an IFR clearance is one of the most anxious experiences of learning to fly IFR -- but it doesn't have to be that way.  Continue»

By Editor Staff

A new system of wind and weather sensors on the mountain ridges surrounding Juneau, Alaska, is generating real-time alerts of turbulence in the airport's arrival and departure corridors. The Juneau Airport Wind System, or JAWS, complements existing on-airport wind shear equipment by covering a much larger volume of airspace within about 10 miles of the airport. Over several years, the project collected data on wind patterns at several mountaintop sites, noting which observed conditions correlated with actual pilot reports of moderate and severe turbulence. JAWS also uses three profilers, which measure wind speeds in columns of air from the surface to 5,800 feet MSL. All of that historical and live data is factored into the real-time system, which can provide alerts to pilots during preflight or in the cockpit about where turbulence is expected. That lets pilots know what's coming and adjust their approaches. Now that the system is working at Juneau, the National Center for Atmospheric Research is planning to adapt it for turbulence-prone airports in Southern California and the intermountain West.

http://phys.org/news/2012-09-airport-smoother-take-offs.html

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By Thomas Turner

Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve done THAT! It feels good to know I still can.  Continue»

By Thomas Turner

Stomp hard on the rudder to control the yaw; force the pitch to stay slightly above the horizon, for blue line airspeed; bank into the good engine to combat the roll. Three seconds ago you were flying a twin... now you’re flying a single...  Continue»

By Brian Nicklas

In early July 1925, new purpose-built airplanes were required to replace the modified military de Havilland DH-4 aircraft, which had provided a start for flying mail.  Continue»

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